A few weeks ago, a friend of mine told me about a news clip on Fox News New York. It covered the ridiculous practice of parents ASKING doctors to do elective Tommy John surgery on their sons, so they can throw harder.
Try as I did to find the clip – or the article – I took my friends word for it, and was actually pretty happy I didn’t have to see it.
But, I stumbled across the infamous video just the other day… and since it’s a rainy, cold day in my neck of the woods, I thought I’d share the clip with you! (How nice of me!)
To steal a line from Sports Illustrated, here is a sign that the apocalypse is upon us…
For the record, Tommy John surgery is not the secret potion for the velocity impaired. While some pitchers will have a brief spike in their velocity, it will prove to be short lived. Remember: the surgery tightens an area that has not only stretched, but has ripped, torn or even shredded. After the surgery, if pitchers continue to throw the same way they did pre-injury (in the case of this video, pre-elective-surgery) they will eventually stretch, rip, tear, or shred the “tightened area” again… and probably quicker than they did the first time. Think of all the throws/pitches these little boys will make after “the gift” their parents give them…
Not only does that mean an eventual drop in velocity, but an end to a career, a disabled arm, and everything that goes along with it. (I remember a pitcher by the name of Billy Koch. He had Tommy John, and said it was the greatest thing that ever happened to him because he did throw harder. Then he had to have the surgery again. The he found himself out of baseball.)
Tommy John Surgery is not elective nor is it corrective surgery. It is only to repair damage. It does not have a 100% success rate. It does not even guarantee that you will regain normal function of your arm. (And by normal, I mean life off the baseball field.) It does not produce a consistently “faster” fastball. It does not make you a better pitcher, or turn you into a position player with a cannon for an arm.
It’s around to repair damage done from throwing incorrectly, or the eventual result of being taught incorrectly. (Remember: it’s not simply overuse… it’s misuse!)
I’m pretty sure none of my readers have even thought Tommy John Surgery was even an option to improve an already healthy arm. But, just in case…
BTW – I don’t know if it’s an official record, but Jose Rijo (former Reds great) had the surgery FIVE times.